In the “good ol’ days,” men didn’t participate in child care much, smoking was good for you and a whole car cost about $43.
On the other hand, the “good ol’ days” didn’t include cable TV.
Let’s call it even.
Today, fathers are expected to take more of a hands-on role in parenting, mostly out of necessity. One income simply doesn’t go as far as it used to.
As the father of three, I’ve had my share of child care experiences, incidents, accidents, catastrophes and scrapes with the law over the years. Thus, I feel it is my responsibility to share with the general population, and in particular, younger dads, some of my house husband/father tips, nuggets of sage advice, profanity-laced anecdotes and dire warnings in hopes everyone can learn from my wisdom and stupidity.
That said, I impart the truth as I know it:
Bath time: First of all, a dip in a pool, or a pond, does qualify as a bath. The basic idea in bathing is to get the child wet enough so that some of the dirt falls off. That’s about the extent of it. Word of caution: Children can be slippery when wet.
Dressing your children: For fathers dressing children, boys are easy. You pick one of the many Georgia Bulldog outfits. Even I can figure out what matches.
For little girls, though, you actually have to color-coordinate. Why? I don’t know. I think it embarrasses the mother if you don’t. When our daughter was very young, I could gauge if my daughter’s outfit matched by the reaction of the ladies at the day care when we walked in the door. If they started laughing hysterically, I knew I had committed a fashion faux pas.
Naptime: My area of expertise. Some tips: If lying down next to them and faking like you are snoring (or actually snoring) doesn’t work, put them in front of the TV with either CNN or a soccer match on. A shot of Benadryl always helps as well.
A day with the kids: There are two different modes of activity when I keep the kids on a Saturday in our house: Football season mode and nonfootball season mode.
When it’s not football season, go to a playground or ride bikes or go swimming. When it’s football season, I utilized the “Ring of Death” when my children were younger.
To make a “Ring of Death” of your own, do the following: Grab every sofa cushion, pillow or small mattress in the house, arranging them in a circular pattern. Throw one gallon of ice cream, two large plastic spoons, some dolls or action figures, and two foam baseball bats (plastic rakes will do in a pinch) into the “Ring of Death.” Get some duct tape and oven mitts, taping oven mitts tightly around childrens’ hands. Throw children over cushions into “Ring of Death.” Come back at halftime to check on them.
My children loved the “Ring of Death.” Some would contend that it’s not fair to pit a 3-year-old against a 10-month-old in such an environment, but the 10-month-old actually enjoyed taking a beating. And is not scared of anything now as a third-grader. And if college doesn’t work out, he’ll always have a promising career as a bouncer.
What to say: Even if the kids are complete and utter angels, never let the wife know it. When she comes home, whether it’s been an hour or two days, act like the kids were horrible and the place was a madhouse while she was gone.
It will help explain why the house is in such a mess.
Len Robbins is editor and publisher of the Clinch County News in Homerville. His column appears weekly.